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Studying Organ in Amsterdam
The organ department of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam is proud of its long tradition of highly qualified education. Illustrious organists such as Anthon van der Horst, Albert de Klerk, Piet Kee, Ewald Kooiman, Hans van Nieuwkoop and Jacques van Oortmerssen taught at the department for many years. Among the renowned alumni who studied organ in Amsterdam are Jan Raas, Leo van Doeselaar, Ben van Oosten and Masaaki Suzuki. And the youngest generation of organists also proves our educational quality: students and graduates regularly stand a good chance at reputed organ competitions at home and abroad.

The organ department offers a varied study programme, which is based on playing historical organs. A number of wonderful and famed organs in and near Amsterdam are used, including the Christian Müller organ at the St. Bavo in Haarlem, the Müller organ at the Waalse Church, the Philbert/Adema organ at the Moses and Aaron Church and the Bätz organ at the Round Lutherean Church in Amsterdam, and the Van Covelens and Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ at the St. Laurens Church in Alkmaar.

To stimulate students into becoming versatile, high-level musicians, extensive attention is paid not only to the interpretation of organ music ranging from Early to contemporary, but also to improvisation. The basis for improvising is formed in the course ‘Keyboard Musicianship’. In addition, Miklos Spanyi teaches historical improvisation in monthly group lessons. Collaboration with other departments offers students the opportunity to gain interesting experiences and to develop new perspectives.

Each year the regular curriculum is enriched with many activities, such as masterclasses by renowned visiting teachers from the Netherlands and abroad, concerts (including lunch concerts), projects and excursions. During the academic year 2020-2021, internationally celebrated Ben van Oosten, organist of the Grote Kerk in The Hague, will give a masterclasses and lessons on French repertory from the 19th and 20th centuries. 

Young organ players are also welcome; they can study with Conservatorium van Amsterdam teachers at the Sweelinck Academy.

If you are interested in studying organ at the CvA, you can apply for a trial lesson and visit the weekly group lessons taught on Mondays from 15.00-18.00h at various churches. For more information please contact Pieter van Dijk.

Section representative: Pieter van Dijk

Activities in 2020-2021

  • every second Tuesday of the month: lunch concert in the Waalse Kerk in Amsterdam, start 12.00 uur 
  • Tuesdays 12 Oct, 9 Nov, 14 Dec, 13-14 u: improvisation lessons by Miklós Spányi (Waalse Kerk Amsterdam).
    Dates from January 2022 will be announced at a later time
  • 14-16 March 2022 Mozes en Aaronkerk: masterclass with Ben van Oosten
  • Every Friday in May and June 12.00 + 13.00 uur: cheese market concerts by students in the Grote St. Laurenskerk Alkmaar
  • Fridays in the summer - 13.15-13.45: concerts at the St.Bavo in Haarlem with, among others, Conservatorium van Amsterdam students

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Admission requirements
Audition candidates will be selected on the basis of a video recording to be submitted digitally via the application form. The repertoire for the recording is one work by JS Bach and one work form a later style period. Recordings must be received by February 1st at the latest.

1.  a number of works from various stylistic periods, such as for example:
• H. Scheidemann - Preambulum or choral arrangement; J.S. Bach - Ich ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ
• a selection from VIII Kleine Praeludien und Fugen
• L. Vierne - Arabesque (from 24 Pièces en style libre); J. Langlais - Pasticcio; H. Distler - a selection from 30 Spielstücke, or works of similar standard

2. to sight-read a simple organ work with pedal and to play a short improvisation

3. candidates are advised to develop some proficiency in a keyboard instrument other than organ, preferably piano

In this phase, the student develops into a fully mature performing musician, who is able to communicate at high technical and stylistic level with his/her audience. Emphasis is placed on the following components:
• a solid and reliable technique and the ability to manage stress
• the ability to deal with historical instruments from several style periods (tone production, registration, etc.)
• mastery of repertoire-specific techniques
• thorough knowledge of performance practice
• communicative ability and personality

There are possibilities for specialization (e.g. in the field of performance practice, pedagogy, improvisation, organ building, etc.)

Admission requirements
Audition candidates will be selected on the basis of a video recording to be submitted digitally via the application form. The repertoire for the recording is one work by JS Bach and one work from a later style period. Recordings must be received by February 1st at the latest.

1. An examination lasting approximately 50 minutes, during which the various style periods are represented. The candidate must demonstrate a high level of artistic and technical ability at the organ. Furthermore, it is assumed that the candidate has knowledge of performance practice in respect of the different musical styles.

2. The candidate must submit a list of repertoire with a proposed programme for the entrance examination to the CvA study secretariat before February 1st. This programme will include a variety of musical styles. The admissions committee will evaluate the proposed programme and make any necessary changes. Programme guidelines and requirements may be obtained from the department co-ordinator.

Pieter van Dijk section representative, principal subject
Matthias Havinga principal subject
Louis Robilliard guest teacher
Miklós Spányi improvisation and basso continuo
Gerben Gritter organ building
Henny Heikens hymnology community singing
Piet van der Heijden liturgy